Ask any Mumbai or Delhi youngster what their dream is, and he or she will say, ek khud ka ghar ho. Well, this is the main theme of Netflix India’s first desi original, Love Per Square Foot, produced by Ronnie Screwvala.
The opening scene was perfect, with bank employee cum software engineer, Sanjay Chaturvedi (Vicky Kaushal, Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana fame) who lives in a government-provided small house with his parents (Supriya Pathak and Raghubir Yadav), checking out a couple living in a big pad.
Sanjay has a three-year fling with his married boss, Rashi Khurana (beauty pageant winner Alankrita Sahai), who does not get physical with him for she still feels loyalty towards her US-based hubby Kashin Malhotra (Arunoday Singh).
On the other side we have Karina Dsouza (Angira Dhar, Bang Baaja Barat fame), an employee of the same bank, who has a secure guy, Samuel Misquitta (Kunaal Roy Kapur), yet wants her own thing. She bumps into Sanjay at a party, where they dance away to the chicken song. Karina’s mother, Blossom D’souza (Ratna Pathak Shah), represents a typical Christian lady who wants her daughter to have a church wedding with a decent guy. She has sacrificed a lot for her daughter.
Karina and Sanjay come up with a plan to jointly buy a cheaper flat available for married couples only; yes, you got it right, the age-old contract deal.
But as it happens, they fall in love, but then something happens, and all hell breaks loose. Why don’t you watch it to find out what and why?
Vicky really acts well as a middle-class guy with dreams. He is ready to sleep with the devil, yet has scruples. He brings out the frustrations, when things go out of control, with élan. The scene at the gynecologist’s office, when Rashi tells him she is preggers, was superb.
Angira not only looks very pretty, but also acts well. Here, full credit goes to the director, Anand Tiwari, for if he wanted, he could have added lots of skin show and making out scenes, as the web is known for. But no, they kept it quite decent, just like a normal film.
Both Supriya and Ratna Pathak Shah have played their respective mother parts to the T. While feeling hurt that their kids have taken such important life decisions on their own, they accept them with grace. The scene, when Samuel tells Blossom that he and Karina have not yet made out and she goes ballistic listening to the S-word, was really funny.
Samuel and Karina’s breakup scene was presented very well. It was good to note that he did not call her names, despite feeling broken.
The makers also brought out the cultural issues plaguing intercommunity marriages i.e. veg vs non-veg, no clue about others’ customs, and yes, having prejudices- e.g. running away with the milkman joke, towards the end.
Raghubir Yadav as Sanjay’s father, Bhaskar Chaturvedi, did his part as the singing railway announcer, but he did not really have much to do.
There was just one issue- Rashi joking about honor killing, when she tries to hide her affair, was not done. This issue is far too serious and should not be trifled.
Agreed, makers have creative freedom, but there is something called social responsibility as well.
Arunoday seems to play the clueless guy quite well. He has no idea that his wife is playing the fiddle behind his back. The scene, when he wants to punch Sanjay’s lights out when he hears that he had romped with his wife but ends up smacking Rashi, was also cute.
Although the story is good, it falls in the predictable zone. The makers have played safe, with both lead characters not sleeping outside-Sanjay passed out when Rashi tried to seduce him.
If we want to see a normal love story which is modern and relatable, we would still prefer normal films. I would have liked more complex issues rather than a simple narrative. Guess, the makers were unsure about pushing the envelope.
Also, the 2 hrs 13 minutes length was a tad too long. If you want to make web films, they need to be shorter and more gripping. We did get bored at times. Unlike films, where audiences will not walk out of the audi, here you can easily change the web page.
Also, many people might not watch this; as it is a paid channel, there is no free sample to check out, like with other platforms. And yes, Netflix charges are steeper as well.
Having said that, the company has power, for they got Ranbir Kapoor at the fag end to make a point that life goes on.
Last, but the not least, we have to admit that the main benefit of digital films is that they don’t have time barriers. The shelf life of theatricals is much lower. It’s an indeed a laudable attempt.
We would rate it 3 out of 5 stars.